Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I think I see the problem (RE: IDcreationist "information" claims)

Well, one of them, anyway.

A few months ago, Jeff Shallit wrote about an article in The Scientist, and it got creationist Kirk Durston's attention.

I won't go through ANY of the details - Durston, like many creationists, prefers overly verbose rhetoric to concise language, but feel free to slog through all his patronizing gibberish if you'd like. Others dealt with the technical details of Durston's claims, but I found this short statement very informative:

The question is, is the functional information encoded in the gene that codes
for RecA an example of ID? (I choose RecA because it is an average length
protein, it is a universal protein found in all life forms, and I've done some
work on it.) To answer that question, we need a scientific method to identify
examples of ID that does not yield false positives, yet does not rule out
obvious examples of ID (such as Venter's 'watermarks', or laptop computers) and
is general (i.e., can be applied to forensics, SETI, archeology, and biology).

When I read this (re-read it, actually - I had read the entire exchange some months ago) this really struck me as profound.
And maybe I am just slow and others ahve already recognized this, but it seems ot me their entire line of reasoning regarding "informaiton" and how evolution cannot account for it rests on one little subtle assumption. But it is a big one - a great big foundational assumption which makes their entire 'no new infromation' enterprise little more than a tautology.

Can you see it?

It isn't about ID detection methods or the arcane mathematical details that accompany his boasts. It is this: the functional information encoded in the gene that codesfor RecA an
example of ID?

The functional information ENCODED IN the gene.
Why would they think it is intelligently derived? Because that start out with the a priori position that the 'information' that the gene contains/possesses was PUT IN IT. It is ENCODED:

–verb (used with object), -cod⋅ed, -cod⋅ing.
to convert (a message, information, etc.) into code.

And how is this 'conversion' done if NOT by an intelligent agent, right?

They start out with the assumption that a gene did not arise via natural means and by virtue of the arrangement of it's nucleotides and ends up producing a useful protein, no they start out assuming that a specific protein was needed/desired and that the gene was then 'somehow' acquired in order to make this needed/desired protein.

In other words, they start out assuming what they want to be true.
To be fair, I suppose one could say the same of non-IDcreationists. They start out with the assumption that genes are natural entities, polynucleotides shaped by natural forces into a gene that when transcribed and translated makes something useful.

The difference is, the IDcreationist has mere faulty analogies to support their position.

'Materialists' have observation and experimentation.


Mona Albano said...

Yep, you're right. I noticed that a long time ago. They assume their conclusion. That's why Dembski calls information "specified" when he means "you can define it" and why all the question-begging "There must be an encoder" language.

Intelligent Designer said...

Hey Scott,

I am starting to feel neglected. You haven't chewed up any of my blog entries lately.

UnBeguiled said...

I blame all this on Aristotle. You can't pry the mythical notion of "final cause" out of these folks.

Doppelganger said...

Hi Randy,

As you can see, I've not been blogging much of late, and not been reading many blogs/boards either.

What are you up to?

Doppelganger said...


You got that straight...

Intelligent Designer said...

Hi Scott,

I have been doing a bunch of mudane things some of which I have twittered about. I have also been educating myself by reading some books on biology related topics. It's true, I never took biology at the UW. I wish I had. I was too obsessed with Math and Physics.